German FM announces withdraw from Incirlik air base in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey — A German withdrawal of several hundred troops from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey is imminent, the country's foreign minister expressed after meetings in Ankara.

"I regret that, but please understand that for domestic reasons we will have to move the soldiers," German FM Sigmar Gabriel told reporters on after meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu. "At the moment, the conditions for a visit to Incirlik are not afforded."

Gabriel did not express an alternate plan for the German forces. Earlier this year, the German Defense ministry prepared a report that identified eight possible new suitable sites in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.

"There is no decision, no concrete plan yet," he said.

Multiple times deputies from parliament's defense committee have asked to inspect some 260 German airmen at the base, but were refused.

Cavusoglu said that German lawmakers could visit their troops at the NATO base in Konya, but not at the Turkish base in Incirlik, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported.


"We have welcomed them when they came, and when they leave, we will kindly say good-bye to them," Cavusoglu said, accoording to the German daily Die Welt.

The visit was fraught with diplomatic disagreements.

Reuters reported that Prime Minister Binali Yildirim canceled a planned meeting with him, citing unnamed sources in the PM's office, claiming Yildirim's busy work schedule. The two had been scheduled to meet at 12.30 p.m. local time (0930GMT) in Ankara, according to Turkish Anadolu Agency.

Germany, as a member of the international coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and per its agreement with Turkey, uses the airbase to station its Tornado reconnaissance jets. The coalition by air supports the Kurdish Peshmerga and Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ground fighters.

Both countries are also member of NATO, which formally joined the coalition against ISIS at last month's summit in Brussels.

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